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Do you say yes to the dress?

Andy Archibald
Negotiation Wedding Dress [Converted]
© Adobe Stock


This week marks the beginning of May and the unofficial start to this year's wedding season.

Like many couples, my partner and I are getting married this year and have been busy planning the big day, including negotiating with multiple suppliers for everything from the venue to the cake. I'm sure most, if not all, brides out there will agree that finding the right dress is one of, if not the most, important things that need to be done. After getting engaged last year and deciding on the date and venue, up next for my partner was finding the right dress with the help of a Bridal Stylist. It was a (mostly) joyful experience shared with family and close friends. When confident that at last the dream dress had been found, the Bridal Stylist asked, "Do you say yes to the dress?"

For me, that is an exceptional question. In negotiation terms, the Bridal Stylist followed the 8 Steps of the process that's there in every negotiation. The preparation was done beforehand by asking my partner to complete a survey and gathering initial information, including timescales. Further information was acquired by meeting at the shop and asking good questions to understand her dream wedding dress and budget, which we call the Argue step. A Proposal was made by suggesting a dress to try on, followed by numerous other dresses because either they were the wrong shape or were beyond the maximum budget. We call this the Package and Bargain steps of the process. However, once it was clear that there was a preferred dress and it ticked all the boxes, with the Bridal Stylist picking up on Signals, the Bridal Stylist asked for a response to their most recent Proposal and confirmed the other important details were, which in negotiation terms is the Close and Agree steps of the process.

As negotiation skills trainers and consultants, we recommend many things, including using the 8 Steps to take control of negotiations and, in most cases, making the first Proposal in a negotiation. Provided the proposal is realistic, credible and addresses the needs of the parties involved, which can be identified by asking good questions in the Argue step, making the first proposal has numerous benefits, including putting the proposal maker in control of the negotiation. More often than not, first proposals are rejected by the other party, so be ready to hear no and know that it's not the end - ask why it's a no and what it would take for the other party to agree. And always, always invite a response to your proposal - find your version of 'do you say yes to the dress.'

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